An easy approach up the grassy flats of the Matukituki valley steepens as we climb through beech forest, often scrambling up tree roots and creek beds. We emerge into open tussock slopes as we make the final approach to French Ridge Hut (1,480m/4,856ft), our base for the ascent. Accessible by foot rather than helicopter access, this climb appeals to the budget-conscious climber and makes the rewards all the sweeter.
An early start sees us climbing moderate snow slopes to Quarterdeck Pass, negotiating crevasse-fields in late-season. From the pass, we traverse the final easy ridge to the summit, under the watchful gaze of Mt Aspiring.